NFL Draft 2016: A guide to Draft Town for families and fans

NFL Draft 2016: A guide to Draft Town for families and fans
The city lights up for NFL Draft 2015. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Although the NFL Draft is still nine days away, construction has already begun on the 900,000 square foot Draft Town in Chicago’s Grant Park.

For the second year in a row Chicago will be hosting the 81-year-old National Football League Draft, also known as the player selection meeting.

The annual event is where National Football League (NFL) teams select players from the top college football prospects to add to their rosters.

A highlight of the three day NFL Draft, April 28 through April 30, for fans is a FREE admission Draft Town that transforms Grant Park into a giant playground for fans and families.

There’s a lot to see and a lot to do. Here’s a guide to the ins and outs of what to expect at Draft Town 2016.

Selection Square

Selection Square 2015 NFL Draft Chicago.

The NFL’s rendering of Draft Town. (Courtesy NFL)

Although the actual selections are revealed inside the Auditorium Theatre for ticketed guests, fans can still get in on the action at Selection Square, located next to the Buckingham Fountain. The selections will be broadcast on the big screen with Draft picks in attendance upon selection. 32 team tables will be located in the area for representatives from NFL teams to make their Draft selections.

The 2016 Selection Square will feature enhanced seating area sight lines, a larger stage and more standing room plus opportunities for fans to win prizes, keep tabs on scheduled events and gain access to seats through the Fan Mobile Pass – NFL Draft app.

Attractions

Fans can expect a host of new and enhanced attractions, including:

An NFL Museum (Pro Football Hall of Fame display area) featuring historical Bears memorabilia, Super Bowl rings and Conference Championship trophies and more.

A College Football Hall of Fame filled with memorabilia from former first round Draft picks and Bears legends. Plus life size player mannequins offer fun photo ops.

AFC & NFC stages will feature appearances by NFL team mascots, cheerleaders and drumlines.

More fan photo ops are available for fans who want their picture taken with the NFL’s most iconic trophy–The Vince Lombardi Trophy.

A Draft Ferris Wheel ride gives fans a bird’s eye view of Draft Town and Chicago.

An opportunity to see what it’s like behind the scenes with a visit to a replica NFL locker room created to look as it would appear on a typical game day.

Interactive Activities

drafttownfunFans can participate in various interactive activities including the Vertical Jump, a 40-Yard Dash where runners race down the field against NFL players on a 40-yard long LED wall, football clinics and more.

Food

Draft Town Tailgate offers fans a mini “Taste of Chicago” with selections from some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants in a “taste of the town” tailgate.

Who’s Who of Legends Attending the Draft

Some of the big name NFL Legends that will be in attendance at the draft and signing autographs include: Shaun Alexander, Willie Brown, Dick Butkus, Larry Csonka, Daunte Culpepper, Isaac Curtis, Chris Gamble, Rodney Hampton, Eric Hill, Jevon Kearse, Jim Kelly, Deuce McAllister, Orlando Pace, Chad Pennington, Tony Richardson, Fred Taylor, Jerry Sisemore, Paul Warfield, Bryant Young and others TBA.

 Draft Town Autograph Stage

Here is the announced autograph stage schedule (subject to change) where fans can get signatures from some of football’s greats: Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29:12:30 – 2 p.m.; 2 – 4 p.m.; 4 – 6 p.m.; 6 – 8 p.m.; 8 – 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30: 10 – 11:30 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.; 1 – 2:30 p.m.; 2:30 – 4 p.m.; 4 – 5:30 p.m.

What you need to know to go

Where: Grant Park & Congress Plaza

Dates and hours:

Thursday, April 28: noon to 10 p.m.
Friday, April 29: noon to 10 p.m.
Saturday, April 30: noon to 6 p.m.

Admission: Free

Road closures

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has announced the following closures:

Balbo from Columbus to Lake Shore Drive is currently closed to traffic.  Westbound Balbo will remain closed until Friday, May 6, night; however, eastbound Balbo will reopen for Monday, April 24 morning rush and then will be closed again on Tuesday, May 3 through Friday, May 6 for the load-out of the event.

Michigan Avenue from Van Buren to Congress will be closed at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, until 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 20. Traffic will be rerouted through the Congress Circle during the closure.  Michigan Avenue from Jackson to Balbo will temporarily close on Thursday, April 28 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and then again on Friday, April 29 from 3:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. to accommodate the red carpet introduction featuring NFL legends and top college prospects.

Columbus from Jackson to Balbo will be closed at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, until 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 22 for set-up of Draft Town Fan Festival.  Columbus will close again at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 22 until Monday, May 2 for the event and load-out.

Congress from Michigan to Columbus Drive (and sidewalks) and the Congress Circle will be closed Friday, April 22 night and will reopen on Monday, May 2.  Congress Parkway from Wabash to Michigan Avenue will close Thursday, April 28 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and also on Friday, April 29 from 3:00 p.m. and is anticipated to open later that evening.

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